Falling tree hits, kills public works employee in NJ

SADDLE RIVER, N.J. — A public works employee taking part in a tree removal effort was killed when it fell on him in a northern New Jersey park.

Bergen County officials said Thomas Epper and four other workers were in the process of removing a tree that had partially fallen into the Saddle River when the accident occurred around 5:15 p.m. Thursday.

As Epper was cutting the tree, the root apparently gave way. He then fell into the river and was struck by the tree, which briefly trapped him.

He was freed a short time later and was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead there a short time later.

In a statement, labor commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said:

“The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development offers its condolences to the victim’s family, friends and coworkers. One of our core missions is to ensure workers’ safety on the job, and we treat that responsibility with utmost seriousness. This tragedy — as all public worker injuries and fatalities in New Jersey — is being thoroughly investigated by our Division of Public Safety and Occupational Safety and Health.”